Thursday, March 26, 2009

Defining conservatism

The claims below seem rather stupid and narrow-minded to me. They amount to saying that religious unbelievers cannot be conservative. Yet Australia is one of the world's most conservative countries but it is also a place where very few people are religious. The proportion of the Australian population present at church on a typical weekend is well under 10% and even a lot of them are there for mainly social reasons. And the churches are almost all Left-leaning in fact. So conservatism in Australia has nothing to do with religion. Australian conservatives generally respect religion but there are heaps of them who are not themselves religious. I think my definition of conservatism works a lot better: That conservatives just want to be left alone to get on with their own lives in their own way with as little government interference as possible -- which is why they tend to be strong advocates of individual liberty

If you want to learn to recognize the mark of a true conservative, read Mark Levin's new book, "Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto." Levin is the real thing -- a longtime intellectual and activist leader of the conservative movement -- who writes with unmatched authority and clarity about the conservative vision and how it ought to be pursued today by you and your children and anybody else you know who wants to preserve American liberty....

Like our Founding Fathers and like other first-rate conservative thinkers, Levin recognizes that America's rise to greatness was not rooted in ideology but in a worldview defined by basic -- and true -- assumptions about the nature of the world and the nature of man. Fundamentally, Levin explains, conservatives recognize that there is an immutable natural law ordained by God that all men and nations must obey. He also makes clear that while human beings have a God-given right to individual liberty, they are also imperfect by nature and, thus, if given too much power, are likely to abuse the God-given rights of others.

"Some resist the idea of a Natural Law's relationship to Divine Providence, for fear it leads to intolerance or even theocracy," writes Levin. "They have it backwards. If man is 'endowed by (the) Creator with certain inalienable rights,' he is endowed with these rights no matter his religion or whether he has allegiance to any religion. It is Natural Law, divined by God and discoverable by reason, that prescribes the inalienability of the most fundamental and eternal human rights -- rights that are not conferred on man by man. It is the Divine nature of Natural Law that makes permanent man's right to 'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.'"

Levin deftly isolates why modern liberal class warriors -- those of President Obama's ilk -- must reject this understanding of the world. "The Statist cannot abide the existence of Natural Law and man's discovery of 'inalienable rights' bestowed on all individuals by 'their Creator,'" writes Levin. "In ideology and practice, the Statist believes rights are not a condition of man's existence but only exist to the extent the Statist ratifies them. Furthermore, rights do not belong to all individuals. They are rationed by the state -- conferred on those whom the Statist believes deserving of them, and denied to those whom the Statist believes undeserving of them."

As on his radio show, so in this book, Levin is unapologetic in his indictment of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and successive generations of FDR acolytes -- including LBJ and BHO -- for perpetrating a "counterrevolution" against the limited government prescribed by our Constitution and for creating and expanding a welfare state that breeds dependency in the people and that -- if not soon dismantled -- will bankrupt our nation.

"The significance of the New Deal is not in any one program, but in its sweeping break from our founding principles and constitutional limitations," he says. "Roosevelt himself broke with the two-presidential-term tradition started by George Washington by running for four terms. His legacy includes a federal government that has become a massive, unaccountable conglomerate: It is the nation's largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, health-care provider and pension guarantor."

This is the truth about what liberals have done over the last 80 years of American history. American freedom cannot survive another 80 years of expanding government and diminishing individual autonomy.



I am now a Chromer

Google Chrome, that is. In Australia "chroming" refers to a very stupid practice by some young people, mostly indigenous, of inhaling fumes of solvents, gasoline, paint-thinners etc. in order to get "high". It fries their brains but in some cases you would hardly notice, given their low starting point in that department.

I found that Firefox was in important ways worse than IE. I guess that there are work-arounds for the problems concerned but they were not obvious. I could find no way of altering my default home-page for instance. And the "Back" button mostly did not work. And it kept closing windows on me if I had more than one open. Quite mad. I have none of those problems with Chrome. It definitely beats both both IE and Firefox, though there are some things that I can only do with IE so far. I don't like Google's politics but they do make good software.


Two interesting posters

A reader sent me them a little while ago but I have no details about their origins. I am wondering if any reader can help me identify them: When and where they came from and where originals or copies of them are housed these days.

I can't help noticing the artistic superiority of the Nazi effort. Hitler was an artist, even if a mediocre one, and Nazi images are often quite attractive -- perhaps precisely because Hitler kept pretty close to an average taste rather than being original in any way.

The Soviet effort is very dismal. Where the Nazi effort displays primarily individuals, the Soviet effort just hints at masses of people in the very bottom of the image. The Red army did use the Swastika long before the Nazis did so I have no doubt of the authenticity of the images above.

The "Roman" salute is generally said to have been invented by Mussolini but Musso was a Marxist who knew Lenin well so it is perfectly reasonable to believe that Stalin was influenced by Musso's ideas for a while.


It appears that the posters above come from a documentary film called Soviet Story. See here. The film has had a lot of praise from people who should know so I think that vouches pretty well for the authenticity of the posters. I would like to get dates for them, though -- and where they were first used. Academic caution and all that -- though a lot of academics these days are anything but cautious in their pronouncements.


The old days weren't so bad

There is a fascinating video here showing that an experienced Morse code operator can transmit a message faster than someone using text messaging. It certainly gives old guys like me a bit of a fillip as the Morse telegraph was invented before I was born -- and I DID on occasions send telegrams in the old days. I must say that I still find Morse transmissions rather eerie. It is hard to believe that human beings do it. The manual dexterity involved seems to beat even playing the harpsichord. And yet lots of people did it in the old days. Those rapid bleeps were normal once. I am quite pleased that those skills have not been totally lost. I guess it is just a hobby these days. When I was a kid we were all taught one tiny bit of Morse: The Help signal. People still understand the expression SOS to this day but how many know that SOS is a call for urgent help because it is very simple to remember and transmit in Morse? Not many young people, I'll warrant.


The military shows who it prefers: GWB or Obama

I guess most readers here have seen this striking video by now but, if not, here it is:


Pain Iran Can Believe In

Diplomacy has no chance without tougher energy sanctions

As a general rule, economic sanctions are a poor foreign policy instrument: hard to enforce (think Burma), prone to corruption (think Oil for Food), rarely effective (think Cuba). But in the case of Iran, let's make an exception.

We say this after five years of futile diplomatic efforts -- spearheaded by the Europeans and backed by the Bush Administration -- to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear programs and comply with binding U.N. Security Council resolutions. Now the only thing standing between the mullahs and a bomb is either punitive sanctions or a military strike, probably Israeli, which could engulf the Middle East in a regional war. Which option do you prefer?

So here's a fact: Despite being a leading oil exporter, Iran imports roughly 40% of its gasoline because it lacks adequate domestic refining capacity. Any cut-off in supply would do immediate damage to the fragile Iranian economy and could bring about social unrest, as happened in 2007 after the regime imposed gasoline rations. Here's another fact: Iran is supplied with gasoline by a mere handful of foreign companies, all of which do substantial business in the United States.

Final fact: There is a growing bipartisan consensus in favor of gasoline sanctions. As candidate Barack Obama put it in the second Presidential debate last October, "If we can prevent [Iran] from importing the gasoline they need and the refined petroleum products, that starts changing their cost-benefit analysis [about the advantages of a nuclear arsenal], that starts putting the squeeze on them."



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)



Anonymous said...

Mr. Ray. I have been reading your blog for quite some time, and enjoyed your thoughts.

An interesting thing is occurring on the forums of the game World of Warcraft. Blizzard, the maker of the game, has outlawed modifications (in game changes they themselves allowed with a published API). That, in and of itself, is not interesting. What IS interesting is that there are many, many posters who decry the authors of addons as greedy monsters.

The public education system in the US has indoctrinated well.

Joseph said...

I have seen the style of poster in "Two interesting posters" described as "The Great Leader hails a cab".